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Our Mission

The Center for Critical Thinking works under the auspices of the Foundation For Critical Thinking, an educational non-profit organization, to promote essential change in education and society through the cultivation of fairminded critical thinking. 

                                 Critical thinking is essential if we are to get to the root of our problems and 
develop reasonable solutions. After all, the quality of everything we do is 
determined by the quality of our thinking.

Whereas society commonly promotes values laden with superficial, immediate "benefits," critical thinking cultivates substance and true intellectual discipline. It entails rigorous self-reflection and openmindedness — the keys to significant changes. Critical thinking requires the cultivation of core intellectual virtues such as intellectual humility, perseverance, integrity, and responsibility. Nothing of real value comes easily.  A rich intellectual environment — alive with curious and determined students — is possible only with critical thinking at the foundation of the educational process.

How Can We Survive in This Increasingly Complex World?

The world is swiftly changing and with each day the pace quickens. The pressure to respond intensifies. New global realities are rapidly working their way into the deepest structures of our lives: economic, social, cultural, political, and environmental realities — realities with profound implications for thinking and learning, business and politics, human rights and human conflicts. These realities are becoming increasingly complex; many represent significant dangers and threats. And they all turn on the powerful dynamic of accelerating change.

We cannot deal with incessant and accelerating change and complexity without revolutionizing our thinking. Traditionally our thinking has been designed for routine, for habit, for automation and fixed procedure. We learned how to do our job once, and then we used what we learned over and over. But the problems we now face, and will increasingly face, require a radically different form of thinking, thinking that is more complex, more adaptable, more sensitive to divergent points of view.   The world in which we now live requires that we continually relearn, that we routinely rethink our decisions, that we regularly reevaluate the way we work and live.   In short, there is a new world facing us, one in which the power of the mind to command itself, to regularly engage in self-analysis, will increasingly determine the quality of our work, the quality of our lives, and perhaps even, our very survival.

Yet we are unprepared to deal with the complexities in the world we now face. Though critical thinking is universally recognized as important in schooling at all levels, and though it is essential to the creation of a fair-minded critical society, few teachers have a clear conception of what it is or how to foster it. See the California Teacher Preparation for Instruction in Critical Thinking: Research Findings and Policy Recommendations.

The question of how to survive in the world is a question continually transforming itself. Accelerating change, increasing complexity, and intensifying danger sound the death knell for traditional methods of learning. How can we adapt to reality when reality won’t give us time to master it before it changes itself, again and again, in ways we can but partially anticipate? Unfortunately, the crucial need for ever-new modes of thought to adapt to new problems and situations in new and humane ways is ignored by most cultures and most schools today. Short-term thinking leading to quick-fix solutions still rule the day. Critical thinking is not a social value in any society. Yet critical thinking is essential to dealing effectively with the problems we face and will increasingly face into the future.

At the Center and Foundation for Critical Thinking, we do not just advocate educational and social reform based on critical thinking, we develop and build practical alternatives.  Join us as we strive to make critical thinking a core social value and a key organizing concept for all educational reform.


A Note on Our History

The Center for Critical Thinking was established in 1980 (with the first International Conference on Critical Thinking) by Dr. Richard Paul, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, at Sonoma State University. Dr. Paul is considered one of the founders of modern critical thinking and is internationally recognized for his contributions to the field of critical thinking, for advancing and further developing a substantive concept of critical thinking that began with Socrates more than 2500 years ago. The Center for Critical Thinking is affiliated with Sonoma State University in northern California. The Foundation for Critical Thinking was established in 1990 to support and supervise the work of the Center for Critical Thinking. 

Our work through the Center and Foundation for Critical Thinking is internationally recognized for advancing the concept of fair-minded critical thinking within education and society. We receive more than 150,000 unique visits per month to our website, from more than 100 countries. We reach out to educators at all levels, in all subjects and disciplines, and develop curriculum materials to achieve this end. We also develop critical thinking books and guides for anyone interested in developing their reasoning abilities. Moreover, we sponsor conferences, academies, seminars and workshops in critical thinking. Tens of thousands of educators, government officials, business leaders, home study parents, graduate students (and others) have attended our conferences and workshops since our inception.



The Center for Critical Thinking

The Center conducts advanced research and disseminates information on critical thinking. Each year it sponsors an annual International Conference on Critical Thinking and Educational Reform. It has worked with the College Board, the National Education Association, the U.S. Department of Education, as well as numerous colleges, universities, and school districts to facilitate the implementation of critical thinking instruction focused on intellectual standards.  The Center was founded in 1980 by Dr. Richard Paul at Sonoma State University in Northern California.

Read more about the Center for Critical Thinking

Foundation for Critical Thinking

The work of the Foundation (founded in 1990) is to integrate the Center’s research and theoretical developments, and to create events and resources designed to help educators improve their instruction. The Foundation’s materials include books, thinker's guides, and videos. The Foundation sponsors the National Academy: Training for Trainers, the International Academy on Critical Thinking and various workshops on critical thinking.  The Foundation also works with institutions in designing critical thinking professional development programs.  The Foundation is a recognized 501C3 Non-Profit organization.

The National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking

The goal of the NCECT is to articulate, preserve, and foster intellectual standards in critical thinking research, scholarship, and instruction. The NCECT is a creation of the Foundation for Critical Thinking.

Read More about the NCECT

The International Center for the Assessment of Higher Order Thinking

The International Center for the Assessment of Higher Order Thinking (ICAT) was founded to help K–12 schools, school districts, colleges, and universities design cost-effective ways to determine their success at teaching students fundamental critical thinking abilities. It has designed the International Critical Thinking Test, which is available through the Foundation for Critical Thinking.

Read more about The International Center for the Assessment of Higher Order Thinking